We saw Brand New play at Upstate Concert Hall this past Wednesday, and I found myself in the midst of a semi-mosh pit about six rows away from Jesse Lacey. It was a great experience, and I highly recommend moshing to anyone who doesn’t mind being pushed around a bit, but during the last song of the night (“Seventy Times Seven”) something predictably bad happened. My glasses, an item I wear more often than pants, got knocked off my head and into the abyss of anonymous shoving. They were relocated later by my housemate and WCDB Program Director Jackie Carr about ten feet away from where they originally fell of my head, slightly bent but amazingly still functional and capable of being worn. I could say that this is the reason why I hate crowd surfers, but a crowd surfer isn’t the one who knocked my glasses off. That person was the guy standing behind me throughout the show who was moshing as well, and pushed into me with a decent amount of force while unintentionally hitting my head.
The point of that opening story is that “when you enter a mosh pit, that’s a risk you take”. That was a statement told to me by a good guy within the crowd, who subsequently protected my body and yelled at me as I broke one of the golden rules of not searching the floor while music is playing. I was ok with the fact that my glasses had been knocked off because it was understandable within the circumstances and unintentional, and I am extremely grateful that they’ve been returned in a functional manner. Ultimately, that’s a risk I do have to accept if I want to mosh at a show.
As we drove away we discussed the crowd; mainly annoyance about people making snarky comments that they shouldn’t have to wait so long to see Brand New pre-set, but also about how certain people at the show sucked: The Crowd Surfers. Crowd Surfing is a thing that society and pop culture seem to view as an amazing experience for a person which everybody is super supportive of. It’s my personal theory that people start crowd surfing at shows because they went to the show with it being set as a goal, and they successfully convinced the people around them to help in accomplishing it. Let’s say three people end up going to the show with this in mind, and their eventual not-so-graceful passing around ends up inspiring five new highly-suggestible specimens that crowd surfing would so totally be an awesome thing to do right now. These ones are great, because they can sometimes not even ask for help and just rely on the fact that the guy in front of them won’t mind if you try to use his back like a ladder in lifting themselves up. Finally once enough people feel obligated to stop them from falling painfully to the ground, where do they want to go?
“PASS ME TO THE STAGE!”
The trek begins as they go through one of two strategies
1) Controlled Crawl: The passee actually has a good amount of control over where they go, continuously looking for body parts to grab of people ahead of them, with shoulders and head being common aiming points.
2) The Log: The passee makes it to the top of the crowd and then doesn’t move, putting their body at the fate of the masses as they kick the back of heads on their road to the glory of being ushered away by a member of the venue’s security team.
Crowd Surfers become an unwanted heap of responsibility at shows for people that are just trying to enjoy the music or even their company. It’s a selfish act where you hope to magically end up at the front of a crowd and have everybody high five you, while in reality we all kind of hate you for nearly knocking us unconscious. Escape the illusion and realize that crowd surfing sucks.
If you still feel the need to crowd surf because it’s already on your bucket list, here’s some help in doing it in an only semi-annoying fashion
1) You can do it once at a show
You get your moment in the spotlight, land at some place in a crowd, and stay there. This way you can spend some time thinking to yourself about how many members of the audience just sexually assaulted you in a 30-second period.
2) Wait until the last song
Bands know how to construct their setlist, and the entire thing is supposed to be a lead-up to the finale where everyone has their best moment of the night and leaves with good memories. If you’re trying to get people to help you crowd surf five songs into a set, you’re doing something wrong.
3) It has to make sense
Something about the song has to make you say ‘I think crowd surfing would be a great idea right now’. I don’t think that is a logical reason for anyone to arrive at ever, but if you do make sure that the song is at least energetic and one that you are familiar with.
4) Have Courtesy
People are being nice to you by supporting you in this endeavor, stay aware of people and try to move around as gracefully as possible while thanking the people who make a concerted effort to help you.